It has been a dramatic few days for trainer Aidan O’Brien, the master of Ballydoyle, with a setback for his ante-post Derby favourite while seeing other Classic contenders step forward into the limelight.

On Sunday, O’Brien confirmed Luxembourg would miss his intended run in the Derby after suffering a setback, with Stone Age quickly replacing his stablemate at the top of the market following an impressive victory in the Leopardstown Derby Trial.

The Irish trainer has been in fine form of late, winning both Derby trials at Chester through Changingoftheguard in the Vase and Star Of India in the Dee Stakes and continued his dominance when United Nations beat Charlie Appleby’s well-touted Walk Of Stars at Lingfield.

  • Derby plunge Desert Crown stars in Dante line-up
  • Leading Oaks hope Tuesday heads to Irish 1000 Guineas

Royal Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing

Watch every race from Royal Ascot, live only on Sky Sports Racing from Tuesday June 14 to Saturday June 18

O’Brien spoke to AtTheRaces’ Kevin Blake to give the latest on his Derby hopefuls, plus leading Oaks contender Tuesday…

Older horses


He will go for the Saval Beg at Leopardstown on Friday and all being well it will be onto the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot after that. He is a fair horse, I would say. He improved over the winter and was impressive on his return at Navan.

Mother Earth

Also See:

  • Hannon eyeing Royal Ascot next for Lusail

  • O’Brien excited at thought of Luxembourg return after Epsom blow

She will run in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. If all goes well there, she will go to Royal Ascot. I am expecting her to improve nicely from her winning return at the Curragh.



We were not worried that he did not win a race last season. We treat their two-year-old season as education for their three-year-old year. In the trials, we like them to be a true test and if nothing else is going on, we are usually happy to make the running ourselves which is what he did at Chester. He won very well, and he is entitled to go to the Derby now.

Changingoftheguard leaves New London well behind in the Chester Vase

Concert Hall

She is a hardy lady. The Salsabil Stakes was a steadily-run race and she got away with it on the day. She could come back to a mile for the Irish 1,000 Guineas. I couldn’t be sure that she will stay a mile-and-a-half, but if all goes well at the Curragh, she could be one to go onto the Oaks.


History made a really good return to action at Leopardstown over the weekend. We were delighted with her. We will send her to the Irish 1,000 Guineas next. I am not sure if she will stay a mile-and-a-half, but we will see how she goes at the Curragh.


What he did in the 2000 Guineas, he should not have been able to do. For a horse that is going to be better over longer trips, he ended up totally on the backfoot after clipping a heel early and still managed to work his way into the race. I thought it was a very serious run.

We are obviously disappointed that he’s going to miss the Derby, but these things happen. We will do our best to get him back in top shape as soon as we can and he is still a very exciting horse.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The Racing Debate panel reflect on a dramatic shift in the Derby market and select their horses to follow from last week’s trial action

New York City

I thought he did it very well in the Committed Stakes at Navan. There are a couple of options at York and Newbury this week and I would say he will run in one of them. You would hope he could be one for the Commonwealth Cup and his next run will tell us where he fits in.

Point Lonsdale

We were obviously disappointed with his run at Newmarket, but we hope and think that he will leave that run behind him. We think he is much better than that. He will go up in trip now for either the Prix du Jockey Club or the Derby.

Star Of India

He won really well at Chester last week. He’s a real Galileo in that when you ask him to stretch, he lowers his head right down and gives you everything. He gets so low, he’s almost on his knees! It’s very unusual and a wonderful trait. He’s always been lazy in his homework, so it’s great to see him showing so much progression. He will go for the Derby.

Blake: Star Of India a 'magic' Epsom Derby ride

Sky Sports Racing pundit Kevin Blake says Dee Stakes winner Star Of India will be a "magic ride around Epsom" for whichever jockey gets the ride on Cazoo Derby day

Stone Age

We wanted to teach him as much as we could last season, that’s he ran in such a variety of races. He did not win, but he was learning and progressing all the time and is reaping the benefits of that education this season.

I thought he was very good in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown. We would have preferred for him to get a lead, but nothing else wanted to go, so Ryan did the right thing and went on himself. We always thought he was a high-class horse, and it was great to see him do that.

There’s better to come from him, too. He will go for the Derby now. I would think that Ryan will find it hard not to ride him, but that will be one for him to decide closer to the time when we know what the ground is going to be like and all that.

Stone Age stretches well clear of Glory Daze to win the Leopardstown Derby Trial with ease


We felt that the 1000 Guineas was a bit of a non-event for her. Ryan said she was trapped between a couple of them for the first three furlongs and that did not help him to ride her the way he wanted to.

We felt we did not get a clear answer on whether she gets the mile, so we would like to give her another shot at it. She has a bit of a stone bruise at the minute, but we think it will be gone in a few days. We will be aiming to get her to the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

The Acropolis

The plan is to run him in the French 2,000 Guineas. We really liked him last season, but could not get him to click, so it was great to see him run so well at Leopardstown. He’s a powerful horse and should come on from that.

Thoughts Of June

She is a filly that stays well. I was surprised she was so well beaten on her return in a maiden at Leopardstown, so it was great to see her improve to win at Chester last week. She’s a high cruiser that keeps galloping and I think she’s improving all the time. She’s one for the Oaks.

Thoughts Of June (right) holds off Above The Curve to win the Cheshire Oaks at Chester


The plan is to send her to the French 1,000 Guineas on Sunday. We have been very happy with her since Cork, and she has always worked like a smart filly. In terms of her trip, the family has always been pacey, but in physical terms she probably looks like more of a mile-and-a-quarter filly. If this weekend goes well, she could be one for the Prix de Diane.


She does not turn three years of age in real terms until June 3, so for her to have done so much is incredible really. The first thing Frankie (Dettori) said when he got off her at Newmarket was to go for the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

United Nations

He ran very well in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom considering he was unsuited by the steady pace, and he really enjoyed the longer trip when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial last week. His experience around Epsom will stand to him and he will go to the Derby.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

United Nations emerged as a genuine Derby contender after victory in the Lingfield Trial on Saturday, according to Coolmore representative Kevin Buckley


Little Big Bear

He was impressive at Naas I thought. I do not think he necessarily needs to run again before Royal Ascot, I think he might have done enough already. As regards what race he will run in there, I have never thought that he will have a problem getting six furlongs, but Ryan said not to be afraid to go five furlongs with him either.

Follow Sky Sports Racing on Twitter

See the latest horse racing news, interviews and features from Sky Sports Racing


She was impressive on debut. She had a little stone bruise soon after that, but she’s back in great shape now and we are looking to run her in the Group Three over six furlongs at Naas on Sunday.

The Antarctic

We were delighted with him at Tipperary. He was green there and should come forward plenty from it. There is a winner’s race at Naas on May 15 that we have in mind for him. He’s a fast horse and will only improve.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here